Just before completing the impressive 2,168.1 miles that make up the Appalachian Trail, hikers are faced with one final ascent. A mountain, generally viewed as an obstacle, is transformed into a beacon of hope. Streep and strenuous, but even more so rewarding and victorious, at the end of the Appalachian Trail is THIS:
Mount Katahdin, meaning “The Greatest Mountain,” is the highest mountain in Maine sitting at 5,270 feet and it is one beast of a hike.
A few things to know before hiking up Katahdin:
1. You must reserve (and purchase) a day pass for parking if you hope to hike Katahdin on a weekend or on most days during the months of May- October.
2. Non-residents of Maine can only make this reservation 2 weeks or less prior to the hike date.
3. Reserved spots are held until 7:00am on the day of the reservation, after which any unfilled spots are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. This means you will need to get an early start!
5. Bring lots of water (there’s nowhere to fill up once you’re 2 miles into the trail).
6. Give yourself 8-12 hours total. It took us just under 10 hours and we enjoyed an hour lunch at the summit. We started our trek at 7:45 am and recommend starting no later than 9am.
7. Bring bug spray! Between the black flies and mosquitos you’ll want to be drenched in it from head to toe. I caught Drew in mid-swat below:
8. Don’t bring hiking poles. We ended up having to strap them on our bags (well Drew actually strapped both onto his pack) as they only got in the way of all the rock climbing and cliff scaling that was involved.
All but 1 of the 9 trails leading to the summit are rated as strenuous or very strenuous, this is because there is no escaping the gigantic boulders that make up this granite fortress. Hunt Trail, the trail we took, was 5.2 miles one-way with 4,188 feet of elevation gain, that’s basically 1,000 feet per mile! The amount of stamina and courage needed to complete this route is second only to the infamous Knife Edge Trail, which was unfortunately closed when we went, but to be honest, Hunt Trail was pretty incredible in itself.
Yep, we had to climb all the way up THAT.Once we made it to the top and all the climbing had ceased, there was no place else we’d rather be.
We always enjoy our summits. As we sat on top of Katahdin’s vibrantly green and endlessly craggy peak, we took the time to breathe and reflect on the sense of victory and gratitude that flooded our souls. We could only imagine how rewarding it would feel if we had hiked the entire AT!
The hike down was difficult, but as always, the joy of having made it to the summit carried us home. That night we camped at the nearby Abol Bridge Campground, the best campground near Baxter SP, where we made strawberry pancakes, sipped on cider and gazed upon the mighty mountain that we had somehow managed to scale just a few short hours before.